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Lot 45: Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957)Glory to the Brave SingerOil on canvas, 61 x 91.5cm (24 x 36'')SignedExhibited: RHA Annual exhibition 1951 Cat. No. 172; 'Jack B. Yeats Exhibition', Victor Waddington Galleries, Dublin, October 1953 Cat. No. 1;

Important Irish Art 7th December 2016

by Adam's

December 7, 2016

Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland

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Description: Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957)Glory to the Brave SingerOil on canvas, 61 x 91.5cm (24 x 36'')SignedExhibited: RHA Annual exhibition 1951 Cat. No. 172; 'Jack B. Yeats Exhibition', Victor Waddington Galleries, Dublin, October 1953 Cat. No. 1; ‘Munster Fine Art Club Annual Exhibition’ Cork 1956; 'Jack B. Yeats Exhibition', Waddington Galleries London, March/April 1963, Cat. No.28; 'Jack B. Yeats Exhibition', Waddington Galleries London, Oct/Nov 1967, Cat. No.24; 'Jack B. Yeats Exhibition', Waddington Galleries London, April/May 1971, Cat. No.24. Literature: 'Jack B. Yeats' exhibition catalogues, Waddington Galleries London 1963, 1967 both illustrated in B & W and 1971 illustrated in colour; 'Jack B. Yeats Catalogue Raisonne of Oil Paintings' by Hilary Pyle, London 1992, Cat. No. 1065 Vol II page 967.This late visionary work of Jack B. Yeats depicts a woman reclining in the landscape. She raises herself from the ground and extends her right arm in an exaggerated manner. She points towards a songbird which stands on the topmost branch of a tree, its neck extended and its beak open skywards as it fills the air with its music. The woman’s face is in profile and her closed eyes convey an expression of complete rapture as she listens to the singing of the thrush. Her serpentine pose, in which she looks over her shoulder, suggests that she has been aroused from her sleep by the mesmerising sound of the bird. The highly theatrical posture of the figure is reminiscent of a modern dancer or a classical actress. Her flamboyant appearance and strange gesturing make it appear that she is in abeyance to the bird, prostrate in the face of its splendour. The long dark hair, dangling gold earring and exotic costume of the woman suggest that she is a gypsy or travelling player who has come to rest in this wild location. She is the female equivalent of the wandering men found in so many of Yeats works, most notably the youth in The Singing Horseman, (1949, National Gallery of Ireland). She lies in a tree-lined bower contained by the vertical trunks of saplings that form a protective palisade of blues and reds which opens to a sky of blue and yellow. The colours of her dress; blue, white, pink and gold are enhanced by those of the flowers and plants of this lush setting. This part of the composition recalls those of other late paintings most notably A Rose Among Many Waters, (1952, Private Collection). The subject of a figure enthralled by a bird is also reminiscent of Yeats’s A Blackbird Singing in Tir na Nóg (1943, Private Collection). In this a child gazes upon a bird as it bathes in a rock pool in the midst of a lush and verdant landscape. The painting was exhibited at the RHA in Dublin in 1951 when its resemblance to the earlier and much larger work, There is no Night (1949, Dublin City Gallery) was noted by one writer. This iconic painting shows a male figure reclining in an open marshy landscape. He lifts himself up and gestures, in a similar fashion to the figure in this painting, to a distant white galloping horse. However in Glory to the Brave Singer the view into space is curtailed by the rich vegetation that encircles the woman. The title adds a sense of drama and intrigue with its connotations of subterfuge and danger. This is a highly romantic work, part of a series of Yeats’s later paintings that portray the enduring beauty of nature and its power over humanity. The painting was shown in the Munster Fine Art Club Exhibition in Cork in 1956 and several times at the Victor Waddington Gallery in London in the late 1950s and 1960s but it has rarely been exhibited in public since becoming part of a private collection in 1971. It belongs firmly with the other great epic paintings of Yeats’s late works. Dr Roisin Kennedy November 2016

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